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U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

June 13, 2002

Sergio Garcia

FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK

RAND JERRIS: Now joined by Sergio Garcia. Your opening round of 68 is your lowest opening round thus far in the U.S. Open. Maybe you can start us off with some general comments about the playing conditions out there, if the rain softened things up at all?

SERGIO GARCIA: The playing conditions were probably as easy as they can get or close to it. There was not much wind. The greens were a little softer than yesterday. But still it was playing really hard. And you can see that in this course. I'm happy with the way I played. I managed to hit a lot of fairways, and that's one of the keys. And when I didn't, I was able to scramble around and save some good pars. I was happy with that. I've got to keep it going.

RAND JERRIS: Did you have a target score in mind when you came out this morning.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, no. This kind of tournament you don't really -- more than I go in this tournament you don't go out thinking I've got to shoot 68 or 67 or under par, something like that. You just go out there -- because it's hard enough that if you put even more pressure on yourself, it's going to make it almost impossible. You go out there and you try to play the best you can. You try to scramble around when you have to and you make a couple of putts here and there to start with, and that just builds some nice momentum that you can carry around the golf course. That's what I was able to do today.

Q. You said outside that there were some funny comments that you overheard just from the gallery. And I was wondering if you could share one or two of those?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, they were just funny (Laughter.) There was a lot of talking out there. Just walking around and you'll hear them.

Q. Did the course play easier, tougher or just as difficult as you expected it would?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, just as I expected. One thing, the rain helped us a little yesterday. The fairways were a little easier to hit or less difficult to hit because they were a little softer. The greens weren't as firm as yesterday. But I tell you one thing, they were fast. I think these greens are probably the slopiest, flattest greens I've ever seen in my life (Laughter.)

There were some putts there that -- I mean, I said it two days -- these greens are flatter than what we're used to seeing in U.S. Open. And the slope is going to become a big slope. For example, on 7, I hit a great driver and great 6-iron to about 12 feet behind the hole, and the putt probably, if -- probably three days ago, it would have been outside left maybe a little left. I hit it a foot left and missed it right. They were unbelievably fast, and they're just going to get as fast or even faster during the week. So it's not easy.

Q. Can you talk about your par saves on 16 and 17, and how big they were to keep your round together?

SERGIO GARCIA: They were big. More than anything, 16 was huge, because I birdied 12, as you know. I had a good chance on 13 and I didn't. I had another great chance on 14. I had a beautiful chance on 15 and I missed them all. And I hit one of the early bad drives that I hit today and hit it in the rough and was able to make a great, great putt to probably about 7-footer, big break right-to-left. So those are the kind of things that really help you keep going, and even if I miss a green or two, I can still manage to save par. So it's a big difference between making it up, and that was pretty big.

Q. You were in contention, obviously, going into the final round last year, and so you handled that pressure well for three days, what do you take away from that experience that you apply here?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, not only here, I think in every major you've got to be very patient. You've got to realize that sometimes the winning score is not what it looks like it's going to be. The course is playing hard. So you've just got to take one shot at a time, one hole at a time, and try to manage it the best you can. And that's what I did last year. I'm looking forward to being in a similar position or better position on Sunday, and see how can I handle it. I can't wait to hopefully have two more good rounds and be up there.

Q. Everybody talks about the patience needed in an Open, but how difficult is it to be up there and feel like, "Man, I'm really playing well," but then look at the scoreboard and you're only even par or 1-under?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's hard, but that's what you expect in this tournament. So you've just got to realize it's going to be difficult. You've got to realize that one or 2-under par or even par is always going to be a good round. And that's the main goal. That's why you've got to try. You get a couple of birdies early on, and you try to hold on to it and try to get another chance, and get it going a little, but more than anything, you don't want to be too greedy, because if you play well and you don't want to make a bogey where you feel that you should have made no more than a par, that can get you a little down.

Q. When you came to this country as a teenager, you came across as very colorful, confident, even a little cocky. Has that changed since you've played here a couple of years, especially chasing Tiger? How has your mind changed, do you still have that confidence, cockiness?

SERGIO GARCIA: I do. You have your high and lows around the year. And unfortunately, I didn't play well last month. But last week, I felt like my game was coming back, and I've been working pretty hard on it. I felt quite comfortable with it, not exactly as well as I felt at the beginning of the year where I think I was playing unbelievable. But just not putting too well. So, I think, you know, it's pretty much the same. More than anything, what I'm trying to do is get my emotions to a better level, so when I'm doing well, of course I'm happy, and I show it, but I'm not too happy. And when I make a bogey or hit a bad shot like I did on 6, I'm unhappy about that, but not -- I don't put myself too down. So you just try to keep it on the right level and monitor it the best you can.

Q. Of all the common challenges that a U.S. Open course presents, where do you think the rough will rank here when we're finished on Sunday; will it be the biggest problem?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, yeah, I think so. More than anything, it's a rough that's really -- it's not that high, as we've seen in U.S. opens, but it's probably the thickest I've seen. And the good thing about it is it's so thick that sometimes the ball can layup a little, so you can hit a flier from there. But if it's lying down, you've got to pray to be able to get it out into the fairway and hopefully manage a 4 or a par. But it's probably the thickest that I've seen.

Q. How did you focus so well on golf with Spain playing so well in the World Cup?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, when I'm out there I'm not thinking about Raul's goals, or any of those guys. I'm thinking about scoring my own goals. And that's what I try. And when I finish practicing and everything, of course I love to -- I'm a big sports fanatic, and I love to watch golf and tennis, and I love to watch soccer, any kind of sport that I like. But it's good fun. So, hopefully, I'll be out there on Sunday and be able to watch the game.

Q. Can Spain win?

SERGIO GARCIA: Can they win? Yeah. They have a chance. It's difficult, but you never know how it's going to come out.

Q. We've heard a lot about the -- Tiger's father, and how he's helped his game and mental approach. How has your father helped your game and the way you play out there, from all aspects?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think they're two different persons, but my dad I think has been great for me, for sure, the best thing that I could have in my life. He's just been there when I needed him. He's spent a lot of time with me. I have a brother and sister, and he's spent more time with me than with them, because of what he saw on me. And I'm glad he did and I'm really thankful for everything he's done for me.

Q. Are you able to talk to Martina about any of the pressures of Grand Slam events or how beneficial is it to have her, someone that's been there and won them?

SERGIO GARCIA: It does help. As you all know, she's in a very similar position to me. She knows what I'm going through. She knows what it feels to be in this kind of position. And that's helpful. To me, it takes a lot of weight off of my shoulders to be able to talk to somebody that understands that. And that's the thing -- they don't give you a boring face, because they don't know what's going on. And with her I'm able to find that and that's not easy to get from a girl.

Q. You played one of the better second shots at 15, do you remember what you yardage is, what club you hit and about how long was your putt?

SERGIO GARCIA: I had 173 yards to the hole, a little downwind on the right. I hit a beautiful drawing 8-iron to about six feet up the hill. I don't know how I broke up the hill -- I thought it was going to go a little left-to-right, and there's a huge slope on the left, and it went towards the slope. So it was a funny putt.

RAND JERRIS: Could you walk us through your birdies and bogeys, please.

SERGIO GARCIA: On 4, I hit a very good drive to the middle of the fairway. I hit a good 3-iron on the right-hand side, just right of those bunkers, had probably about a 60-foot chip. I hit a very good chip to a couple of feet and made that.

On 5, I hit a good drive, on the first cut. I had a good 8-iron, needed one more yard, and cut the edge of the rough and hung on the first cut there, just right of the green, 12 feet and chipped it in.

On 6, I hit a great 2-iron off the tee, hit the worst shot I had all day, hit a very poor 7-iron to the right, on the bunker. I hit -- then I hit a bad bunker shot, to about 12 feet and missed it.

Then, on 12, I hit a great drive and a very good 6, low draw 6-iron from 202, trying to bounce it and skip it up the little ridge, and unfortunately, it hit too softly, and had a 20-footer up the hill and made it.

Q. This is a typical U.S. Open set up. What about the set up of a U.S. Open course plays to your strengths as a player and what about the set up of a course like this attacks your weaknesses?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think the great thing for me about this kind of course is if I'm on, I can hit driver everywhere, and drive it in the fairway. I'm very confident with that club. So, this course, more than anything, really, really helps because you've got to hit a lot of drives, because of how long it is. And I think, like everybody else, if you're not on, everything is against you in this kind of course, because you start missing fairways, you lose some confidence, and you start struggling around and it gets really hard. But I think driving is very important for me.

Q. Just to help us judge the difficulty of the golf course, how well did you play in your mind to be 2-under?

SERGIO GARCIA: I could have played better. I don't think I could drive the ball much better, because you're going to miss some fairways. They're difficult to hit and eventually you're going to miss some. But I could have hit my irons a lot better. But sometimes you play a little safe and you're just trying to keep going. But I can play a little better than this.

Q. Can you make a comparison in terms of difficulty with Bethpage and Carnoustie?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's different. Of course Bethpage, it's playing hard, and if the wind blows it's going to be really difficult. But here, you usually don't expect the wind to blow too much. The problem is at Carnoustie in England, the most common thing is for the wind to blow. So to have a 10-inch rough from three yards of the fairway, in a course that's usually going to blow, it might be a little extreme. But there's no doubt that if we get one of those wild days here, and the wind starts blowing 15, 20 miles an hour, it's going to be survival day.

Q. Which holes did you not hit driver today?

SERGIO GARCIA: I didn't hit driver on the first and on the second. I hit 3-wood on both of them. On the first hole, I missed the first cut by a foot and had to chip up. On the second, I hit another one in the fairway in the middle of a divot. And then I didn't hit driver on 6. And then, after that, I didn't hit driver on 18. That's it. I hit 2-iron.

Q. That left you how far on 18?

SERGIO GARCIA: I hit 2-iron and 150 yards to the hole. The wind was helping today on 18 -- then it switched on the second shot. But it was the right day to be able to hit a little shorter club.

End of FastScripts....

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